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Civil Rights and Race Relations in America and Their Impact on the Lives of African Americans
In school districts across the nation, talented African Americans and other students of color are denied a fair opportunity to gain access to the life-changing educational experiences provided by specialized schools for high-achieving students and gifted/talented education programs. As a result, elite public schools and programs, which provide key pathways to college and then to leadership locally, regionally, and nationally, are among the most segregated.
Heman Marion Sweatt and Abigail Noel Fisher both wanted to attend the University of Texas at Austin.
Both claimed their race was a primary reason for their rejection. Both filed civil rights lawsuits, and the Supreme Court ultimately agreed to hear their separate appeals -- filed more than half a century apart.
When I started school in Virginia in 1968, the public schools in my county were still segregated by race. When our school board finally began complying with Brown vs. Board of Education, a group of parents decided to start an all-white private school. They showed up in our driveway one evening to convince my parents to join them. My father — a white factory worker and a son of the brutally segregated South — sent them away unhappy.
I won’t be in class on Wednesday. Instead, I will be in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the historic arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas.
This case will decide whether UT will be able to continue on the path to becoming a place where students of all races and backgrounds are truly welcomed into our university community.